Theirs is the first generation of seniors to have balked at being called granny and gramps, embraced the late-life crisis and later-life divorce, and begun out-drinking their younger counterpartsby Hephzibah Anderson / June 5, 2020 / Leave a comment
An electric scooter may not seem the likeliest set of wheels for a desperado breakout but it’s how my mother is plotting to escape my shielding ministrations. She’s in her 70s, so while she isn’t about to risk public transport any time soon, a motorised toddler ride is apparently just fine.
Her destination? The allotment, a socially-distanced joy she’s determined to snatch back, even as friends and family urge her to stay home. The trouble is, her allotment is too far away to walk, she doesn’t drive and has nowhere to stow a bike. While she’d happily thumb a well-ventilated lift in a flatbed trailer (I jest not), she doesn’t know anybody who owns one. Hence the e-scooter.
The idea has my four-year-old twitchy with envy but I’m sputtering on about charging times and highway legislation. “You’ll need a helmet,” I lecture via video call. “Are they even legal on bike paths?” As my voice edges up in pitch, my mum’s hand reaches for the screen. “Just turning you down,” she explains, the septuagenarian equivalent of a teen’s exaggerated eye-roll.
Senior mutiny is something many of us encountered over the past few months. In the early days of the coronavirus crisis, my social media feeds were chock-full of friends shrilly despairing of their heedless elders, 70- and 80-somethings intent on zipping into town to catch an exhibition or keep that lunch date. Suggestions that age-specific quarantine measures might be brought in provoked heckling from the likes of David Blunkett and John Humphrys. “That is not policy: it’s discrimination,” Humphrys fumed. “I will not comply.”
Theirs is the first generation of seniors to have balked at being called granny and gramps, embraced the late-life crisis and later-life divorce, and begun out-drinking their younger counterparts. Indoctrinated by the mantra that 70 is the new 50, it should come as no surprise that “YOLO (you only live once) grandparents,” as journalist Benjamin Wallace-Wells has dubbed them, haven’t enjoyed being treated like geriatrics all of a sudden.
Meanwhile, their children are realising that reverse parenting can be just as demanding as the conventional kind. My style? Hectoring and helicoptering, apparently.
For those of us in the blessed position of having loved ones who remain hearty and independent…